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jon.dowland.name log

jon.dowland.name log
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Amiga floppy recovery project

jon.dowland.name log - Wed, 13/05/2015 - 4:19pm
I've still got it!

I've still got it!

Recovered floppy disks

Recovered floppy disks

Deterministic Doom video

jon.dowland.name log - Tue, 28/04/2015 - 9:33pm

My last blog post proved popular, and I've had some requests for a video demonstrating it, so I've put one together:

Deterministic Doom

jon.dowland.name log - Thu, 23/04/2015 - 8:07pm

What happens if you remove randomness from Doom?

For some reason, recently I have been thinking about Doom. This evening I was wanting to explore some behaviour in an old version of Doom and to do so, I hex-edited the binary and replaced the random number lookup table with static values.

Rather than consume system randomness, Doom has a fixed 256-value random number table from which numbers are pulled by aspects of the game logic. By replacing the whole table with a constant value, you essentially make the game entirely deterministic.

Useful script

jon.dowland.name log - Tue, 21/04/2015 - 8:33am

Here's a useful shell procedure:

vigg () { git grep --color=auto -lz "$1" | xargs -r0 sh -c "echo vi +/\"$1\" \"\$@\" < /dev/tty" }

git grep is a very effective way to run a recursive grep over a git repository, or part of a git repository (by default, it limits its search to the sub-tree you are currently sitting in). I quite often find myself wanting to edit every file that matched a search, and so wrote this snippet.

Linux music players, 2015 edition

jon.dowland.name log - Sun, 22/03/2015 - 10:10pm

Now I'm back to Linux on the Desktop for my dayjob, I was slightly nervous about checking out the state of the art for Linux music players; an area I've never felt the Linux desktop was very strong on.

R.I.P. Terry Pratchett

jon.dowland.name log - Thu, 12/03/2015 - 4:12pm
Pratchett and I, around 1998

Pratchett and I, around 1998

Terry Pratchett dies, aged 66.

It looks like his last novel will be The Long Utopia, the fourth book in the Long Earth series, co-written with Stephen Baxter.

archive.org is not backup

jon.dowland.name log - Sun, 08/03/2015 - 5:44pm

I thinking archiving is important, archive.org is great, and I'm proud of what little contribution I've made to date.

Someone recently pointed out that an upload I had made is now inaccessible. In it's place is a short message: this item is unavailable due to issues with its content. What issues are not made clear.

Debian and Docker

jon.dowland.name log - Mon, 02/03/2015 - 9:04pm

I've been playing around with Debian and Docker a little bit. I found Joey Hess' post about Docker trust interesting reading, in particular this advice:

I'd recommend only trusting docker images you build yourself. I have some docker images published somewhere that are built with 100% straight debootstrap with no modifications (...) But I'm not going to link to them, because again, you should only trust docker images you built yourself.

CD ripping on Linux

jon.dowland.name log - Wed, 25/02/2015 - 9:14pm

A few months ago I decided it would be good to re-rip my CD collection, retaining a lossless digital copy, and set about planning the project. I then realised I hadn't the time to take the project on for the time being and parked it, but not before figuring a few bits and pieces out.

Blade Runner: Alien Easter Egg?

jon.dowland.name log - Mon, 22/12/2014 - 11:53am

A few weeks ago I went to see Blade Runner: The Final Cut in a one-off showing at the Tyneside Cinema. I've only watched the Final Cut once and that viewing was a bit compromised, so it was nice to see it properly, and on a massive screen with decent surround sound too.

PGP transition statement

jon.dowland.name log - Thu, 27/11/2014 - 1:48pm
-----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE-----
Hash: SHA512,SHA1

I'm transitioning from my old, 1024-bit DSA PGP key, FD35 0B0A C6DD 5D91 DB7A 83D1 168B 4E71 7032 F238, to my newer, 4096-bit RSA key, E037 CB2A 1A00 61B9 4336 3C8B 0907 4096 06AA AAAA.

If you have signed my old key, I'd be very grateful if you would consider signing my new key. (Thanks in advance!)

Moving to Red Hat

jon.dowland.name log - Wed, 19/11/2014 - 7:48pm

I'm changing jobs!

From February 2015, I will be joining Red Hat as a Senior Software Engineer. I'll be based in Newcastle and working with the Middleware team. I'm going to be working with virtualisation, containers and Docker in particular. I know a few of the folks in the Newcastle office already, thanks to their relationship with the School of Computing Science, and I'm very excited to work with them, as well as the wider company. It's also going to be great to be contributing to the free software community as part of my day job.

Ansible

jon.dowland.name log - Wed, 08/10/2014 - 8:12pm

I've just recently built the large bulk of VMs that we use for first semester teaching. This year that was 112. We use the same general approach for these as our others: get a generic base image up and running, with just enough configuration complete so a puppet client starts up; get it talking to our master; let puppet take it from there.

There are pragmatic balances between how much we do in the kickstart versus how much we do in puppet, but also when we build a new VM from scratch versus when we clone an existing image, and how specialisation we do in the clone image.

Mac

jon.dowland.name log - Tue, 15/07/2014 - 7:16pm

My job exposes me to a large variety of computing systems and I regularly use Mac, Windows and Linux desktops. My main desktop environment at home and work has been Debian GNU/Linux for over 10 years. However every now and then I take a little "holiday" and use something else for a few weeks. Often I'm spurred on by some niggle or other on the GNOME desktop, or burn-out with whatever the current contentious issue of the moment is in Debian. Usually I switched to Windows and I used it as an excuse to play some computer games.

Spiral

jon.dowland.name log - Thu, 12/06/2014 - 11:02am
March Of The Pigs

March Of The Pigs

I stumbled across this whilst packing up my 7" records. It's one of my favourite 'features' on a blank side.

Nine Inch Nails, Manchester, 2014

jon.dowland.name log - Mon, 26/05/2014 - 6:58pm

I spent the bank holiday weekend mostly in Manchester with my brother and a couple of friends, mostly to see Nine Inch Nails perform, but also to enjoy the pleasures of the city.

the Marble Arch's ceiling

the Marble Arch's ceiling

Whitley Bay Ice Rink

jon.dowland.name log - Wed, 15/01/2014 - 7:37pm

Recently, North Tyneside Council circulated the beginnings of a regional development plan. This consisted of a detailed map of the borough, complete with various areas marked out as sites for potential housing development. Included amongst the sites for potential development was Whitley Bay Ice Rink and the surrounding leisure facilities: a football pitch, a cricket pitch, and more.

2013 In Fiction

jon.dowland.name log - Sun, 05/01/2014 - 3:55pm

I read a lot this year - I'll write more about that and reflections on goodreads in another post - but most of the things I read weren't published in 2013. (I should also write a bit about my thoughts on e-readers). However, it seems I have enough to write about 2013's novels to make a round-up post worthwhile, so here we go.

2012 In Review

jon.dowland.name log - Wed, 25/12/2013 - 11:49pm

2013 is nearly all finished up and so I thought I'd spend a little time writing up what was noteable in the last twelve months. When I did so I found an unfinished draft from the year before. It would be a shame for it to go to waste, so here it is.

Winter has arrived

jon.dowland.name log - Thu, 21/11/2013 - 10:26am

Winter has come

A nice view at work this morning.

Iain Banks

jon.dowland.name log - Thu, 03/10/2013 - 4:20pm

In April this year, Iain Banks announced that he had inoperable cancer. At the time I was reading what became his last Culture novel, "The Hydrogen Sonata". Banks died shortly afterwards in June.

At the time I came across this passage in "The Hydrogen Sonata" which struck me as poignant:

Living either never has any point, or is always it's own point; being a naturally cheery soul, I lean towards the latter. However, just having done more of it than someone else doesn't really make much difference.

Much belated RIP, Iain Banks.

Married

jon.dowland.name log - Wed, 25/09/2013 - 9:00pm
Jon and Sarah

I got married! Sarah and I tied the knot on the 10th August this year. We married in a registry office where we live and had an evening reception on Tynemouth beach. A fantastic time was had by all.

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